Tuesday, 4 October 2016
Philip Hammond and Schrodinger's Cat
It's no secret that those of us who stood up and were counted, who said it like we saw it and campaigned for it to the last were more than a little hacked off with the various contemptibles on the Remain side who, we had hitherto thought, erred to our side of the line. You know who I'm talking about: Sajid Javid, Michael Fallon, Philip Hammond and even our own prime minister herself. All had in the past expressed very clear anti European sentiments and self identified as Euro-sceptics only to then campaign for the other side.
Of course David Cameron himself was one of the greatest quislings. And indeed it was his sudden fervour for all things European after his rip roaring deal with Europe that presumably persuaded so many to switch sides. Perhaps they did so before it became clear that Boris had decided to make a different political calculation. We'll have to wait for their memoirs to know. And probably not even then.
Now though the same people are graciously bowing to the will of the people and accepting our verdict in June.
Yesterday it was Philip Hammond, the new Chancellor, who gave a speech in which he asked us to forget what he was saying only a little over 3 months ago. Not that he put it like that of course. All is forgotten. Or at least it ought to be so. Perhaps he has heard of that piece of EU legislation, a fantastically deranged ruling that requires internet search engines - which coincidentally just happen to be American - to forcibly remove from their searches old information about people that they consider inconvenient or in any way embarrassing. There must be a few politicians who will enthusiastically embrace that. Many of them will be Remainers who have seen the light.
Earlier this year Mr Hammond told the country that, if we were silly enough to regard his then bosses renegotiation as being less than triumphant, the rest of Europe would likely take a similarly uncompromising line with us over our ingratitude and refuse to give us the deal we see as our due. Now Mr Hammond has had a miraculous conversion. We can be confident, he told us yesterday, in our ability to get that deal.
So which is it then? Well the Chancellor has said that, though he considers that we have every reason to be confident he is nevertheless taking precautionary steps in case everything goes belly up. You might call it the Schrodinger's Cat position and him the Schrodinger's Cat politician. His position on Brexit is both for and against. And his career is both dead and alive. Or is it the prime minister is dead in one scenario and then reborn alive and as a woman with him getting a promotion. Confusing stuff this quantum physics. Either way, as Boris might describe it, Philip Hammond's policy is like Boris's on cake: he is for having it and eating it.